Whether crocheting a sweater, slippers, mittens, tote bag or hat, you’ve likely been told to make a swatch.
Now, most of us fall into one of three categories when told to swatch:
- Nope, not happening.
- Why is this even necessary?
- I've tried to make a swatch before, it didn't make a difference.
But, let’s dig a little deeper here; do we really need to swatch, and why is it important?
Defining what a swatch is, and why it’s important, will make a huge difference in your crochet projects!
In crochet, a swatch is really just a small sample of work. And, creating these small samples will help you to determine and accomplish quite a lot in your finished projects.
One of the most common reasons to swatch is to see if your personal gauge matches the gauge listed in the pattern. This is important when the size of the finished project should be specific; you need to make a 20″ hat, or your sweater should be extra small and not medium.
When making a gauge swatch, there are a few things to note:
- Start with the same yarn, and same hook size: When you start with the exact elements the pattern calls for, you’re more likely to meet gauge off the bat! If you’re a bit off, you can make small adjustments to match gauge as closely as possible.
- Substitute yarn with care: If you choose to use a yarn alternative, make sure the weight class, and sub-class, is as close a match as possible. For example, if the pattern calls for a Weight 3 DK, you’ll need to not only find another Weight 3, but it will also need to be a DK.
- The bigger the swatch, the better: Gauge is typically listed in a 4″ by 4″ square; stitches per inch, rows per inch. When you’re making a swatch to meet gauge, try to make a swatch slightly larger than the gauge mass indicated; make a 6″x6″ to measure against the 4″x4″ square gauge listed! You’ll have a greater area to measure, especially if your tension is smaller than the gauge listed.
- Follow the pattern: Most crocheters ask what stitches they should work up to check their gauge. The answer is always, always always: the same stitches as used in the pattern! If the pattern is a basketweave stitch, work up a swatch using that! If the pattern is alternating rows of double crochet and single crochet, work up a swatching using those!
If you’ll be swatching for gauge next time you crochet, please let us know in the comments today!
Peace + Love + Crochet